Students from the VCU School of Social Work will travel across the globe during Christmas break to bring aid to street children in Ghana.
The team of students consists of 15 women and will be led by two former VCU students, Cameron Carter and Kelly McCall. The group will embark on a two-week journey into Africa starting Dec. 28.
Kelsey Cunningham, who is in her first year in the master’s program for social work, will be part of the team traveling to Ghana this winter.
“I’ve always loved Africa and I love helping people,” she said. “It’s going to be a great experience.”
The group will partner with Global Sovereign Mission – a nongovernmental organization – to provide aid to children living in the Cocoa Marketing Board area, an impoverished squatter settlement made up of countless children, many of whom are without parents or caregivers.
The team of VCU students will participate in a weekly feeding program and administer basic medical aid to the children.
Continuing construction on a child-development center is another task the VCU team will participate in. The child development center (more commonly known as a school) has been in progress for several years. Since opening in the fall of 2009, the school has space for children up to the first-grade level. Adding a second level to the school will make it possible for the building to accommodate students up to the fifth grade.
“Children in Ghana want more than anything to go to school, and now some will be able to do so,” VCU School of Social Work Assistant Director of Field Instruction Randi Buerlein stated in an online article.
The VCU students will meet with children and families in the area to gain a better understanding of the culture and the need in Ghana.
“This gets people engaged in the community at a root level, to understand social issues,” Carter said. “A lot of people come back and say OK, how can I create change in my community.”
Prior to the trip, the team is receiving training to acclimate participants to the cultural, social and traditional issues they will encounter in Ghana. The team will continue preparations by packing medical and school supplies for the children.
While most of the trip will be dedicated to working on the school and spending time with local children, there will be time for exploration of Ghana’s landscape. Students also will spend leisure time in Kakum National Park walking through a rainforest canopy and visiting a historic castle that was part of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.